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The Little Book of Lykke

 

By now we’re all familiar with hygge, the Danish concept of cosiness that has become an international phenomenon in the past few years, largely thanks to Meik’s book on the topic.

But what is lykke? Pronounced luu-kah, it’s the Danish word for happiness. Danes have been shown to be the happiest people in the world, and Meik definitely fits that bill, as the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. In this witty and informative book, Meik goes beyond the woolly socks and warm beverages of hygge to get at what really makes Danes so happy, and what the rest of the world can learn from them. He also travels across the globe on a quest to uncover the secrets of the very happiest people from Dubai to Rio de Janeiro, taking back to his native country their tips, tricks, and unique approaches to a fulfilled life. Here is Meik sharing a little insight into what he does and how he does it with our clients in our 50 Water St showroom.

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Product of the day: CR Laine

Unabashedly orchid leather and streamlined curves mix pure comfort and stylish proportions in CR Laine’s Hoffman chair, which is finished in sable.

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Product of the day: Nathan Anthony

Characterized by dramatic cascading fringe, Nathan Anthony’s Elan swivel chair boasts limited edition leather hand-sewn in a fetching tile-like pattern on the back.

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Carpet Diem with cc-tapis

Born in France. Designed in Milan. Produced in Nepal. cc-tapis is an Italian company which produces contemporary hand-knotted rugs created in Nepal by expert Tibetan artisans. The company was founded by Nelcya and Fabrizio Cantoni who have been producing hand-knotted rugs in Nepal for over 17 years. A strong respect for the materials and for the culture of this ancient craft is reflected in the company’s eco-friendly approach to every step of production, ranging from the hand spinning of the softest Himalayan wool to the use of purified rainwater for the washing of the final products, making each one of cc-tapis’ rugs unique.

Far from mass production, cc-tapis aims to offer a tailored service to those who understand and enjoy a high-end product, where a three month production time contains a story of ageless culture.

Fabrizio and Daniele introduced their new collection titled Inventory, designed by Faye Toogood. cc-tapis works with a wide array of designers, such as Patricia Urquiola, Chiara Andreatti, Martino Gamper, Parisotto + Formenton, Alex Proba, and Mae Engelgeer.

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Product of the day: Polart

The arresting life-size Calavera armchair by Polart , inspired by Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos, is constructed of polyurethane, steel and the fabric of one’s choosing.

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Product of the day: Worlds Away

The Pippa stool by Worlds Away blends stripes and checks for a striking contrast in classic black and white bone.

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Product of the Day: Moss Studio

The Rubi’s squared cushioned shape fits conservative plushness into any modern setting with a muted safari flax color. Moss Studio.

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Photographer Selwyn Pullan

 

Photographer Selwyn Pullan captured the spirit of modernism on the West Coast

Celebrated photographer and North Shore resident Selwyn Pullan died on Monday, September 25, 2017. Born in Vancouver on March 14, 1922, Pullan studied photography at the Art Center School in Los Angeles (now the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena) from 1948 to 1950. His iconic images of West Coast Modern architecture captured the spirit of innovation and design in British Columbia from the 1950s to the 70s. Pullan’s photographic projects by many leading architects, including Barry Downs, Arthur Erickson, Fred Hollingsworth, Ned Pratt and Ron Thom, were prominently featured in lifestyle magazines of the era.

Selwyn Pullan’s compelling photographs were the subject of two solo exhibitions and the seminal book Selwyn Pullan Photographing Mid-Century West Coast Modernism (Douglas & McIntyre 2012), produced by the West Vancouver Museum. In 2014, Pullan generously donated his important archive of more than 10,000 negatives and prints to the museum.

“I saw Selwyn’s photographs at his studio for the first time in 2004. I kept visiting him to learn about the development of modernism in this city. His images brilliantly showcased modern living on the West Coast and the pioneering architectural designs that played an important role in the city’s growth,” says Kiriko Watanabe, Assistant Curator, who worked closely with Pullan on both exhibitions and the monograph.

“We are fortunate that Selwyn chose to donate his collection to the West Vancouver Museum. It is a lasting and historically important record of a bygone era. We will honour Selwyn’s monumental achievements by making the collection accessible over time,” says Darrin Morrison, Administrator/Curator.

The West Vancouver Museum will honour Selwyn Pullan’s legacy with an exhibition of his work in 2018.

Image: Selwyn Pullan in his studio. Photograph by Ken Dyck, 2008.

 

This post was written by the West Vancouver Museum.

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Product of the Day: Mr. Brown

Finished in Dark Walnut, the Durrant chair from Mr. Brown lends warmth to an eloquent minimalist frame with plush purple velvet upholstery.

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Ettore Sottsass

 

Born on September 14th, 1917 in Innsbruck, Austria and died on New Year’s eve 2007 in Milan. His father who shared his name and profession moved to Turin so that his junior could study Architecture at Politecnico di Torino. The elder Ettore was a traditionalist, his son wanted to be everything that he was not, drawn to bold shapes and colours, often bending and breaking the rules of Architecture and Design. After graduation, Ettore was drafted into the Italian military to fight in the Balkan Campaign, was captured and held in a POW camp in Yugoslavia.

 

After the war, he married Fernanda Pivano. Pivano was a prolific writer and translator, working closely with Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker, William Faulkner, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

 


Photo taken by Ettore – Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg, Dylan and Peter and Julian Orlofsky

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They moved to NYC where Sottsass began working for George Nelson. Though his work there only lasted a few months, Nelson made a big impression on Sottssas. Perhaps not so much in colour-ways, material selections or applications but in attitude and demeanour. Here’s an excerpt from George Nelson: The Design of Modern Design where Ettore recalls first meeting Nelson.

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“George Nelson was traveling effortlessly on our wavelength, possibly because he had been in Italy a few years but mainly because his mental mechanisms, his curiosities, and his enthusiasms had no borders; they were not provincial; they roamed everywhere, in all directions, imagining history and “histories” continually expanding in a global sphere. George Nelson’s existential vision acknowledged no compartments, partition walls, specializations, or special keys. Life and thought, the irrational, the rational, the true and the imaginary, were for him open regions, permanent collages, continuous landscapes to be crossed. Anyway, that evening long ago perhaps we became friends, more by words unspoken than spoken, more by hopes announced than by established programmes, more by mysterious necessities or mysterious inclinations than by any sort of certainties. He said to me: “Why don’t you come and see me in New York?” I told him I didn’t have enough money. Italy was in a disastrous state, and so was I. He said: “Come and work with me for a while.” “Really?” I said…. I found myself in New York, a black, opulent city, invaded by yellow cabs, unexpected fumes, and green glass canyons, after a very long flight on a Constellation, probably a war relic. The evening I arrived I went to sleep at George’s place. George had a large, modern, dark apartment, with lamps hidden in the ceiling from which beams of theatrical light descended. Then there was the furniture designed by him, long elegant, subtle pieces, lacquered in gray and orange, with attractive drawers and tiny handles, resting on black carpets, and then plastic Danish, smooth, dark red cups, and tables in stainless steel and white plastic laminate, all polished and sophisticated, all as mysterious as a hidden ritual…”

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He moved back to Italy, full of new impressions and ideas, this is when he seemingly found comfort in the unusual and became more courageous than ever, his definitive style began to take shape. In 1958, Sottsass was hired by Adriano Olivetti as a design consultant for Olivetti, to design electronic devices and develop the first Italian mainframe computer, the Elea 9003 (pictured below) for which he was awarded the Compasso d’Oro in 1959.

 

 

He also designed office equipment, typewriters, and furniture. There Sottsass made his name as a designer who, through his unique brand of styling, managed to bring office equipment into the realm of popular culture. His first typewriters, the Tekne 3 and the Praxis 48, were characterized by their sobriety and their angularity. With Perry A. King, Sottsass created the Valentine in 1969 (below) which is considered today as a milestone in 20th century Design. _ _ _

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While continuing to design for Olivetti in the 1960s, Sottsass developed a range of objects which were expressions of his personal experiences traveling in the United States and India. These objects included large altar-like ceramic sculptures and his “Superboxes”, radical sculptural gestures presented within a context of consumer product, as conceptual statements. Covered in bold and colorful, simulated custom laminates, they were precursors to Memphis, a movement which came more than a decade later. Around this time, Sottsass said: “I didn’t want to do any more consumerist products, because it was clear that the consumerist attitude was quite dangerous.” As a result, his work from the late 1960s to the 1970s was defined by experimental collaborations with younger designers such as Superstudio and Archizoom Associati, and association with the Radical movement. Sottsass was given a grim prognosis – back then a diagnosis of nephritis, which affects the kidneys, was basically a death sentence. Roberto Olivetti, no doubt indebted to Sottsass for his contributions, funded a groundbreaking treatment program for the designer at Stanford University and saved Sottsass from certain death.

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Sottsass and Fernanda Pivano divorced in 1970, and in 1976 Sottsass married Barbara Radice, an art critic and journalist. When Roberto Olivetti took the head of the family company, he named Sottsass artistic director and gave him a high salary, but Sottsass refused. Instead he created the Studio Olivetti independently working Olivetti and became instantly the most creative international centre of design associating research with creation and industrial strategy. The feeling that his creativity would have been stifled by corporate work is documented in his 1973 essay “When I was a Very Small Boy” In 1968, the Royal College of Art in London granted Sottsass an honorary doctoral degree.

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Ettore Sottsass founded the Memphis Group in Milan on December 11, 1980, after the Bob Dylan song “Stuck inside of mobile with the Memphis blues again” played during the group’s inaugural meeting. Industrial design took great strides during the 20th century led by great analytical minds like Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, and Marcel Breuer. They followed logical paths where form always followed function, they were highly rational, often being symmetrical and unadorned, ornate styles virtually disappeared form mass-produced pieces during this era.

 

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Sotsass wanted to explore deeper relationships that develop between person and thing, to prompt unusual and explorative human behaviour, to approach function like a psychologist rather than an scientist in order to expose the potential impact of design language on the human psyche. Memphis pieces give physical forms to abstract ideas and provoke an emotional response instead of a quiet intuitiveness. There seemed to be a constant underlying theme, commenting on social hierarchies ultimately giving the pieces deeper meanings. Luxury materials married with obviously low cost ones, symbolically laughing off the distinctions between socio-economic classes, inventing a new unassuming narrative. This theme is exemplified by their Marble Sofa.

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While function was not king, Memphis pieces, often considered art or decoration and not furniture or functional works, always served their intended purposes. Even if it was not clearly apparent, Memphis reached further than the others finding a higher purpose than just practicality, making them more “practical” in a sense when their work is viewed from alternative perspectives which the Memphis pieces force you to do.

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Ettore once said that “Memphis is like a very strong drug, you cannot take too much. It’s like eating only cake.” _


Shiva vase for BD Barcelona, Nine-O chair for Emeco, Mandarin for Knoll, Glass Work for Venini

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The group was dismantled by Sottsass in 1988. Recently, there has been a revival of the group. Seen nowadays as a radical historic group, it served as inspiration for the Fall/Winter 2011-2012 Christian Dior haute couture collection and for the Fall/Winter 2015 Missoni collection.

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The group most iconic work is the “Carlton” room divider designed by Sottsass in 1981.

 

Around the same time as the birth of the Memphis Group, Sottsass founded his own design office, Sottsass Associati which is still in practice creating furniture and buildings with Ettore’s flare. Though primarily an Architectural firm, Sottsass Associati also practices industrial design with leading companies such as Apple, Philips, Siemens, Zanotta, Fiat, and Alessi, occasionally bringing in former members of the Memphis Group on these projects.

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The man defied his father, his professors and his colleagues. He refused to follow the sacred rules of Design and Architecture. He was a rebel and we are grateful that he found a way to make the world love him for it.

 

“Now the bricks lay on Grand Street Where the neon madmen climb They all fall there so perfectly It all seems so well timed”

– Bob Dylan

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Product of the Day: Roberta Schilling

Roberta Schilling’s plush sheepskin upholstery makes for the ultimate in cozy comfort.

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Product of the Day: Carnevale Studio

Crafted from latex, bungee and rope, the Stretch chair from Carnevale Studio merges form and function with vivid style.

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Product of the Day: Ope

The minimalist modular system from Ope can be reconfigured and reassembled in myriad compositions.

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Product of the Day: Knoll

In celebration of designer Florence Knoll’s 100th birthday this year, Knoll relaunches an early 1940’s design as the Hairpin Stacking table in painted steel and laminate.

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Kaikado

We were honoured to host master craftsman Taka from the legendary Japanese manufacturer Kaikado.

Kaikado was established in 1875, shortly after Japan opened its doors to the rest of the world. With welcoming outside civilizations came the import of tinplate from England. Tin was used for the plating of steel, and was considered a fashionable foreign-made item at that time.

In the Edo era, canisters made from tin became commonplace means of storage for tea, as were jars made from china or earthenware. It was the company’s founder, Kiyosuke, who first designed the tin tea caddy and made it into a commercially available item, the very same caddies that they still make today.

The following day after Taka’s talk, he held a workshop with a lucky few in the craft of fabricating one of their small plates.

Arigato Taka-san!

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Product of the Day: Century

Exotic upholstery lends a tribal vibe to Century’s streamlined armchair.

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Product of the Day: Tacchini for DDC

Alternating finishes add diverting contrast to these minimalist, versatile chairs from Tacchini for DDC.

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Product of the Day: Bellini Modern Living

An arched shape adds interest to the Carmen ottoman from Bellini Modern Living, adorned with sunny yellow upholstery.

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EPA seeks comments on extension of national formaldehyde standard deadlines

Stakeholders in a new national formaldehyde emissions standard for composite wood products have until June 8 to comment on the extension of compliance standards recently announced by the U.S. Envir…

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Happy Birthday Florence Knoll

 

Florence Marguerite Knoll Bassett née Schust was born May 24, 1917 in Saginaw, Michigan. Florence studied Architecture under Eliel Saarinen at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in 1934. In 1936, she started to explore furniture making with Eliel’s son Eero and the now legendary Charles Eames.

 


Florence discussing the now infamous Tulip base with Eero Saarinen

 

In 1940, she moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and worked for Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, and was highly influenced by the principles of the Bauhaus school and Breuer’s furniture, primarily constructed with tubular steel frames. She would further pursue her fascinations with furniture production at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, where she studied under Mies van der Rohe.

In 1943, 5 years after Hans Knoll founded Knoll Inc., Florence (then Schust) convinced Hans she could help bring in business to his company even in America’s wartime economy by expanding into interior design by planning interiors alongside architects. With her architectural background and deep understanding of interior design, she succeeded. She has stated that she was not a furniture designer, perhaps because she didn’t want her furniture pieces to be viewed on their own but rather as an element of her holistic interior design. Her methods of interlacing architecture with interior design has proven to be hugely successful though, to this day, is still not widely practiced.

 


Hans and Florence

 

Hans would propose to Florence in 1946, as well as becoming Hans’ wife, she became a full business partner and together they founded Knoll Associates. A new furniture factory was established in East Greenville, Pennsylvania, and dealers of Knoll’s furniture were carefully added over the next several years quickly growing their business.

Knoll felt architects should contribute their design ability to furniture as well. Some of these furniture designs would become design icons of the 20th century and have remained in the Knoll line for decades due to their timeless design.

 

 

When Hans Knoll died in a car accident in 1955, Florence Knoll took over operation of the company. She designed chairs, sofas, tables and case-goods during the 1950s, many of which remain in the Knoll line to this day. In 1958 she married Harry Hood Bassett. In the 1950s her work was often included in The Museum of Modern Art’s “Good Design” exhibits. Although Knoll did a great deal of residential work, she worked in the International Style that was especially successful in corporate offices.

 


Letter from Alexander Girard (Sandro to friends) to Florence soon after Hans’ passing.

 

 

As an architect, Knoll’s most famous creations are the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company Headquarters building in Bloomfield, Connecticut (above) and the interior of the CBS Building in New York City (below). Her vision for the new office was clean and uncluttered, and the corporate boom of the 1960s provided the perfect opportunity for her to change the way people looked at how they worked in their offices.

 

 

She retired as Knoll president in 1960 but remained with the company as the director of design until 1965 when she retired completely.

 

 

In 2002, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts for her contributions to 20th century modern design. (above)

 

 

We absolutely love Florence’s innovation and raw talent, she relentlessly gave so much of herself to our industry. Thank you Florence! …and Happy 100th birthday!

 

We’ll leave you with a short video produced by the folks at Knoll. Hear Florence reminisce in her own words:

 

Here is a small selection of the classic Knoll pieces, available for online purchase, still in production today.

 

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